Diversity in Curling
By Chase Sinnett of USA Curling
As curlers, we need to face a harsh truth: our sport is dominated by white-presenting athletes. This, as a concept, hid itself alongside the apparent fear to talk about race that is systemic in our country.
Being a white male who grew up in a fairly affluent suburb, I was never exposed to the harsh reality of systemic racism. I was taught racism is bad and it ended with the confederacy; however, I was never taught Black history, such as the Tulsa Race Massacre, Claudette Colvin, or Juneteenth, to name a few parts. Recently, I have looked past the information handed to me and instead toward the internet where I can research historical information and see what was hidden or whitewashed. Black history is more than the Civil War and abolished slavery; it is expanded on every day right up to current times with the Black Lives Matter movement in full swing. Inequality is still in our society whether it’s acknowledged or not.
Let’s take a step back. Imagine seeing a large piece of tree bark covering part of a path. There’s moss growing on it, so some people leave it alone and move on down the path. Along comes someone who examines the bark and notices something suspicious. They lift the bark up, and underneath is a cavern filled with beautiful butterflies that have intricate designs all over. They took the time to dig a little deeper than what is seen on the surface, and in turn they found the expansive and beautiful cavern. The butterflies, now seen and heard, can spread out and share their beauty with the world.
That bark is our societal standards, and the butterflies are the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community. Many see the bark and don’t lift it as they are comfortable where they stand in society. That is white privilege. Those who lift the bark stand as allies and amplify the voices of the oppressed communities. With just a few changes, our world can become a place of diverse, equal, and kind humans, where the BIPOC community can live without fear of microaggressions or being attacked.
In business, diversity is effective for garnering new ideas from every branch of the world. Lamont Robinson, CEO of Robinson LaRueCo Consulting, helps corporations maximize the value of diversity by building supplier diversity programs and connecting diverse businesses to private and public sector opportunities. Lamont stated that “competitive diverse suppliers create competition for incumbents, which drives down the costs within a supply chain. Diverse suppliers are also typically more nimble than their larger competitors, which injects an infusion of innovation.” In short, diversity is good for business.
Now apply Lamont’s statement to the curling world. Diversity brings a positive impact to our community as we hear new stories, share more laughs, and play more games with friendly faces. I asked Bobbie Todd, a member of USA Curling’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, what she believes diversity brings to curling. She stated, “Diversity brings new perspectives to the sport and expands the viewership and number of people participating in the sport. It allows curling to expand across the globe even more. It also allows the level of competition and number of competitions to grow, ensuring the survival of the sport.”
If we want to grow our sport, we need to be welcoming to those of all communities. So how do we start to increase diversity in curling?
A starting point could be to reach out to diverse employee resource groups (ERG) and invite them to their local club for a corporate outing. These corporate rentals would allow people of all communities to try our sport, create bonding experiences, and build trust and friendships with each other, while the club also earns some income. The people in ERG’s may express interest in joining the club, therefore expanding on participation.
Bobbie brought up reaching out to schools with diverse populations when I asked her where the curling community could start in terms of increasing diversity. She stated that “If you can get the kids involved, the parents will follow. Curling is a sport that tends to skew old and white. So the more clubs are able to integrate young people of color and their parents, the more those folks are likely to tell their friends and bring in others. Not only does it benefit the sport by becoming more diverse, but it can extend the longevity of the sport as well.”
These few ideas to increase diversity will generate more. The best way for us to begin this mission is to have candid conversations about it. We have the unspoken rule to not talk about race in our country, but that is changing. The unequal and unjust treatment of the BIPOC community in the United States has reached a point we cannot ignore, and now is the time to speak out for what’s right. I encourage you to reach out to your club’s members and start the conversation of where to begin and how we can strive for this positive change within our community and beyond.
Published by Olympic Sports.